Bird flu outbreaks are driving up egg and poultry meat prices far faster than usual, with eggs expected to cost 20 percent more and poultry 9 percent more this year than their 2021 averages, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday.
In less than three months, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has killed more than 31 million birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, in domestic flocks from the Atlantic coast into the Rockies, according to USDA data released Sunday. Officials said bird flu was identified on two additional egg farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with a combined 2 million hens.
Laboratory tests confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in three additional states, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Utah, with losses in domestic flocks nearing 27.4 million birds, said the Agriculture Department. The first outbreak in Pennsylvania, at an egg farm in Lancaster County, was announced two days after the state banned poultry shows at county and local fairs for 60 days.
Nearly 5 percent of the egg-laying hens in the United States have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the past six weeks, said USDA data on Wednesday. Egg prices were rising faster than the overall rate of food inflation, though there was an ample supply ahead of Easter and Passover.
In three weeks, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have killed more than 4 percent of the egg-laying chickens in America. "Egg availability may be limited leading into Easter," traditionally a high-demand period for eggs, said analysts at rural lender CoBank.
For the first time, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the nation, said agricultural officials over the weekend. Some 14.6 million birds in domestic flocks have died of HPAI or in culling of infected herds to reduce the spread of the viral disease this year.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza was identified in three more states — Missouri, Maryland and South Dakota — said the Agriculture Department. Since the first case was confirmed on Feb. 8 on a turkey farm in southern Indiana, HPAI has been found in 21 domestic flocks in 12 states.
The Agriculture Department confirmed outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAi) in adjoining Ulster and Dutchess counties in upstate New York, about 80 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River. The USDA has confirmed 12 other cases, all in the eastern half of the nation, since Feb. 8.
More than three years ago, California voters approved Proposition 12, guaranteeing sows, veal calves and egg-laying hens more room to move about and barring the sale of eggs, veal and pork from farms, even in other states, that do not comply with the new standards. The law went into effect on Sunday, although state officials were still working on a final set of regulations.(No paywall)
California's Prop 12, which prohibits the sale of eggs in the state from chickens housed in battery cages, along with the arrival of the first viable egg substitutes, amounts to a one-two punch that could mark the beginning of the end of the industrial egg, writes Rowan Jacobsen in FERN's latest story, published with New Food Economy. (No paywall)
Canadian officials say prospects of agreement on a new NAFTA by the end of the year are fading in the face of unacceptable U.S. demands, reports Canadian Press, with some analysts questioning if the true U.S. goal is a breakdown in negotiations. The chief U.S. negotiator told Bloomberg, "We made a request of Canada for improved access for dairy, poultry and eggs" over the weekend, the first time agricultural trade was discussed at the talks.
Two-thirds of the way through 2017, the government says grocery prices are headed for a barely perceptible increase of 0.25 percent this year, thanks to lower red meat, egg and fresh produce prices. This year's marginal increase follows the first instance of retail food price deflation in half a century, the 1.3-percent year-on-year decline in grocery prices in 2016.
Nearly 74,000 chickens were killed and buried on a farm in southern Tennessee in an effort to stem an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, said state officials. The first round of samples from flocks on neighboring farms were free of the disease, said state veterinarian Charlie Hatcher, who cautioned, "We'll be in this thing for a long haul."
Agriculture officials ordered the culling of 73,500 chickens on a Tennessee farm near the border with Alabama, and put 30 nearby poultry farms under quarantine following discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the breeding flock. It was the first case of "high path" bird flu in commercial poultry in the nation this year.
Overall U.S. grocery prices will not rise at all this year — the first time in four decades of records that the inflation rate would hit zero, says the Agriculture Department, pointing to the effects of low petroleum prices, the strong dollar and falling prices for beef, pork and poultry. Retail food prices were flat or fell during six of the first eight months of 2016, assuring "a rate of inflation (or possibly deflation) that would again fall below the 20-year historical average of 2.5 percent," says the Food Price Outlook.
U.S. red meat and poultry production in the final half of this year will be 3-percent higher than the same period in 2015, say USDA economists. The rapid expansion in the beef, pork and poultry supply will mean lower market prices across the board, with cattle down 11.7 percent, hogs down 8.3 percent, broiler chickens down 5 percent and turkeys down 6.8 percent.
The strong dollar and low oil prices are slowing food price inflation to its lowest rate in six years, a barely noticeable 1.5 percent this year, says the Agriculture Department. And, looking ahead, USDA economists say 2017 will be the third year in a row that food inflation is far below normal.
Publix, the country’s fifth-largest supermarket chain, became the last of the top 25 grocery companies to pledge to sell only cage-free eggs within the decade, reports the Orlando Sentinel.